Featured New Release Of The Week: The Night Of Many Endings by Melissa Payne

This week we’re looking at a tale that manages to combine elements from disaster movies, The Lord Of The Rings, and The Breakfast Club into a beautiful and poignant tale with strong yet never preachy social commentary. This week we’re looking at The Night of Many Endings by Melissa Payne.

Adult Breakfast Club During A Disaster. Ok, so I love me a good disaster movie, and The Breakfast Club (look it up, kiddos) is one of the most iconic movies Hollywood has ever produced, at least for those of us who were anywhere from young kids (and mostly learning of its amazingness a few years after it released) to young adults (who were actively living it) in that era. Here, Payne manages to hit both notes while admittedly not having quite the same tear-jerking punches of both of her prior novels. The front part of the book sets up the disaster, and actually does nearly as good a job as the Tommy Lee Jones movie Volcano in showing just how “normal” the day of the disaster is. Then the disaster strikes and our more Breakfast Club mode kicks in. Here, our cast isn’t trapped by an overbearing Principal in detention, but in a life and death struggle to stay alive and stay warm during a brutal snowstorm – but the ultimate tones and themes are very similar, up to and including various relevant tragic backstories. (Note that only the currently-relevant-backstories-at-time-of-publication part is similar between the two. The actual backstories are actually wildly divergent and yet great looks into under-told stories of each type of person.) And yet – get ready for yet another movie reference – the ending drags on a bit similar to The Lord Of The Rings: Return Of The King. Ok, the “coronation” has finally happened. We don’t need half the tale being what happens after! (Note, nowhere near that bad here – more like the back 20% ish of the tale.)

Still, the writing is as beautiful and poignant as ever, the overall backstories are inventive in their rarity in literature, and ultimately this *is* a really strong book that everyone should read. Very much recommended.

Featured New Release Of The Week: A Dancing Tide by Grace Greene

This week, we’re looking at a book that the author originally had no intention of writing… and then the reviews began coming in from her fans (including this very blog) begging for a sequel… and so here we are. ๐Ÿ™‚ This week, we’re looking at A Dancing Tide by Grace Greene.

Here’s what I said on Goodreads:

Beautiful Sequel. Full disclosure up front on this one: I read the book a month ago and somehow forgot to write my review then. Fortunately, I’ve been slowing down and I’ve only read about a dozen and a half books since. ๐Ÿ˜€ This book was a great continuation of a story… that the author originally had no intention of continuing. But she listens to her fans – including myself – and when we began clamoring for a sequel to A Barefoot Tide due to several unresolved threads at the end of that tale, Greene eventually wrote this tale as well. And while I think we could continue in this world for at least one other book, most of the threads that were left a bit too open in the previous book are more fully explored here, and thus if this series ends as a duology, I think that too could work. But while it *can* *technically* be read first, you really should go read A Barefoot Tide before this book… and then you’ll be glad the rest of us begged Greene enough for this book that she finally wrote it. ๐Ÿ˜€ Very much recommended.

Featured New Release Of The Week: In Another Light by AJ Banner

This week we’re looking at a compelling drama of grief and the psychological effects it can have. This week we’re looking at In Another Light by AJ Banner.

Here’s what I had to say about it on Goodreads:

Compelling Drama of Grief. This is a very compelling drama/ mystery of a woman’s struggles in the years following the death of her husband. The grief is all-encompassing, felt in nearly every letter on every page – which can make this book a bit dreary at times, but the mystery and mental struggles Phoebe faces are compelling enough and fast paced enough (in this short-ish, 252 page book) that the plot never really has the time to become *truly* overbearing in the grief. Revelations begin to stack up late, and much is made clear – to both Phoebe and the reader – even as the book chooses its path to be the less expected, more atypical one. Which I found quite remarkable, as this particular path allows Banner to plumb Phoebe’s fragile psyche that much more and kept the overall tone of the book solidly in place. Truly an excellent work, and very much recommended.

Featured New Release Of The Week: A Lot Like Christmas by Jennifer Snow

This week we’re looking at a book that uses a Christmas countdown to both countdown to Christmas… and to a goodbye. This week we’re looking at A Lot Like Christmas by Jennifer Snow.

Here’s what I had to say about it on Goodreads:

A Different Kind of Christmas Countdown. What happens when you meet a new person 3 weeks before Christmas and you find yourself falling in love… and yet they have told you up front that they are leaving town again on Christmas Day? Well, in this case… you have a plot (and plot device, as the countdown is given at the start of every chapter) for a romance novel. ๐Ÿ˜€ For the clean/ sweet crowd, know that Snow doesn’t exactly shy away from the sex scenes here, and they are never of the “behind closed doors” (unless inside a freezer counts? :D) nor “fade to black”. Otherwise, this was a fun Christmas novel of the various parties and sweets that flavor the season while also dealing with a couple of distinctly non-Christmas heavier issues as well. Truly an excellent work that shows Snow’s skill of showing off social issues without letting them weigh a story down – and even working them into the overall theme of the given book. Finally, I love the “connective tissue” of the series such that we see the couple from the first book a few times and seem to have an indication of who at least one person in the next couple in the next book will be. Excellent tale no matter the time of year you read it, and very much recommended.

Featured New Release Of The Week: Other People’s Things by Kerry Anne King

This week we’re looking at one of those books I love to find where an author takes a topic usually seen as “other” and shows just how human – and how powerful – it can be. This week we’re looking at Other People’s Things by Kerry Anne King.

Here’s what I had to say on Goodreads:

New Wrinkle On Oft-Derided Issue. I don’t suffer from kleptomania myself, but as someone who is Autistic and is interested in unique takes on various issues society deems “mental disorders”, I always appreciate books that can take a topic that is often derided and make it much more “human” and much less “other”. Here, King does just this, and she does it in a whimsical manner that has its share of tragedy as well. An excellent book that rarely takes the “conventional” route, and yet tells the story of how one person’s “mental disorder” can actually work to be a very positive thing when the person learns to truly harness her power.. Very much recommended.

Featured New Release Of The Week: Her Perfect Life by Hank Phillipi Ryan

This week we’re looking at a book that burns slowly and has a long fuse… but then has quite the bang at the end as well. This week, we’re looking at Her Perfect Life by Hank Phillipi Ryan.

Slow Burn With A Bang. This is one of those slow burn mysteries that doesn’t seem like the stakes are *overly* high… until you find yourself in a situation with guns drawn in broad daylight in the streets of Boston. (Yes, a touch of a spoiler, but a very minor one given the lack of other details. :D) Overall you’ve got three primary perspectives, two in third person and one in first, and everyone is hiding things from everyone for varying reasons and no one really knows who to trust at all, including some of the non-perspective characters. So on that point, this tale works well – if, again, a bit slow and seemingly low-stake. But it is compelling enough to have you want to follow along and see what exactly happens, particularly once we begin to get the third perspective (which doesn’t happen until around the 25-33% of the book, IIRC). Overall an inventive tale that plays with some well worn tropes and spins them a bit in a new-ish way, and for this it is very much recommended.

Featured New Release Of The Week: A Fire In The Night by Christopher Swann

This week we’re looking at a mystery/ action book that evokes Mitch Rapp, Henry McCord, and John Rambo and is set in the same Smoky Mountain region as Deliverance. This week we’re looking at A Fire In The Night by Christopher Swann.

Here’s what I had to say on Goodreads:

Mitch Rapp Meets Henry McCord With A Dash of John Rambo. If you’re a fan of Vince Flynn’s Mitch Rapp or the CBS drama Madam Secretary, you’re going to like this tale. If you’re not… you should still give this one a try, as it is a fun action tale set in the wilds of the lower Appalachian Mountains in the Carolinas featuring a former “history professor” who has a few skills history professors normally don’t. And the way Nick Anthony *uses* his skills in this book… well, when the action starts up you might start getting flashes of one of America’s action icons. ๐Ÿ˜‰

I happen to be a fan of all of those things named above (well, the earlier Rapp books anyway – which were some of my very first Kindle reads as I began making the transition to my now eReader Era), and for me as a native of the foothills of the region in question, this was truly great. This is the same general region I’ve gone to many vacations into over the years, and in fact is the same general region that Deliverance was filmed in. And for this Southern boy, finding novels set here that don’t disparage our people and are kick-ass to boot… well, that’s just awesome.

This book is set up primarily as a standalone, but with these characters and with at least one or two things dangling by the end, it could easily be seen as the beginning of a series that could potentially be as good or better than the Rapp series, so this reader in particular certainly urges the author to at least consider the possibilities. Very much recommended.

Featured New Release Of The Week: Make The Call by Mark Richt

This week we’re looking at a particularly well timed book by a legendary college football coach, FSU / UGA / Miami’s Mark Richt. This week we’re looking at Make The Call by Mark Richt.

God And Football. This is Mark Richt, and this book is being published by a publisher that is a division of Lifeway Christian Resources, which originated in the Southern Baptist Convention. (I am unsure at this time of Lifeway’s connection to the SBC. I know there has been news of it in the years since I left the SBC, I just haven’t followed it.) Which is to say, you gotta know up front that you’re getting a lot of talk of both football *and* God. In the 20 years I’ve been following the man, since his first games as Head Coach of the University of Georgia’s football team – when I was 18 and fresh out of high school, but attending another school just outside of Atlanta -, the man has never shied away from either topic, virtually any time you hear him speak away from the sidelines of a game.

Within that context, and particularly with the timing of this book’s release – the week of the traditional opening of the College Football season -, this book is almost a sure fired hit. *Particularly* within Georgia and UGA fans, but even with FSU fans,(since an equally large part of the book, maybe even slightly more, is dedicated to his time as an assistant at FSU under the legendary Bobby Bowden), Floridians, and even in Miami, where he ended his coaching career as the Head Coach of the University of Miami Hurricanes – the very team he had played on in college.

But really, even if you don’t *overly* like Football or God, this book has a lot of strong life lessons, lessons Richt learned along the way either from meetings or, sometimes, the hard way. Lessons that are strong enough that as long as your disdain for those two topics is only mild ish, you should read this book to see anyway. Granted, if you have an utter revulsion to either topic… eh, you’re not going to like this book. Pretty well literally every single page has both topics, and at *minimum* one or the other.

Fans of FSU in the 90s, you’re going to get to relive some of the best highlights of that era of FSU football with a man who was on the sidelines and even calling some of the very plays.

Fans of UGA from 2001 – 2015 – arguably its best 15 year run in the history of the program – you’re going to get to see a lot of the highlights – and some of the lowest of lows – here as well. From Hobnail Boot – and man, I still miss hearing Larry Munson’s voice on that play – to Blackout I (against Auburn, a W) and Blackout II (against Bama, a L where the “can’t win the big games” narrative that would ultimately get him fired from UGA really began) all the way through the meeting that made his departure from UGA at the end of the 2015 season official. (For the record, I *still* say UGA was insane for this move, though CMR himself, as expressed in this book, is at peace with it.)

Fans of Miami will get to see both his view of the program as a player in the late 70s and early 80s and as Head Coach in the late 2010s and how much had changed.

And along the way, Christians will get to see the growth and maturity of a Christian man many – many more than he will ever know himself – have respected and looked up to for many years.

Ultimately this book will play and sell better in certain circles and areas than others, but I suspect that it will do at least as good as similar books by other Christian football legends such as Tony Dungy and Tim Tebow. Which seems to be decently well indeed, given that both of those men are almost constantly on Christian bookstore shelves and often even on chain and sometimes independent bookstore shelves, period.

Very much recommended.

PS: The reason for only 4 stars after praising this book so heavily? Prooftexting. Unfortunately all too common in Christian books, including this one. And an automatic one star deduction every time I see it, no matter how strong the book may otherwise be, in my own war on the practice.

Featured New Release Of The Week: The Liar Next Door by Nicola Marsh

This week we’re doing another blog tour for a the Featured spot, and this time I’m actually making a fairly novel recommendation that you simply take my word that you *need* to read this book. For reasons I’ll get into below. This week we’re looking at The Liar Next Door by Nicola Marsh.

Excellent “Who Is It?”. This is one of those books I’m going to recommend you approach the same way I did – I knew title and author, that was it. Didn’t even look at the description at all until I was over halfway into the book. I’ve read several books from this author over the past year in particular, and no matter if she is writing romantic comedy (July 2021’s The Man Ban) or suspense/ drama (this book), she never fails to give a great story within the bounds of the genre of the particular book.

And y’all, if you approach this book in this particular manner… you’re not going to have any dang clue who the titular “Liar” is. If you read the description before the book, you’ll know immediately as the description is specifically from the perspective of one of 3 main perspectives (among 7 primary players), though one of the perspectives does get a now/ then timeline split emphasizing that particular storyline more. (This is the perspective from the description.) But *all seven* main characters, and in particular all three main perspectives, are lying about something to someone, and unravelling all the various lies and how they stack up is one wild ride. Even when certain things begin to be resolved, Marsh manages to have the book end on yet another final bang within the last few sentences. (So a word of caution to those who generally read the last page of a book before reading the rest of the book: DO NOT DO THAT HERE.)

Yet again, with such a dichotomy of books releasing just a month apart, Marsh shows just how talented a storyteller she really is. Very much recommended.

Below the jump, the “publisher details”, including the book description, author bio, and social media and buy links.
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Featured New Release Of The Week: An Unreliable Truth by Victor Methos

This week we’re looking at a compelling court room drama set in a fascinating world. This week we’re looking at An Unreliable Truth by Victor Methos.

But A Reliable Author. This was my first time reading this author, which makes me a bit different from most of the other ARC reviewers on Goodreads just under three weeks before publication. And I can tell you without hesitation that this is a perfectly fine first-for-you book, so long as you don’t mind coming into a world where at least some of the characters have already had other adventures with each other. (Though the way this one reads, one presumes even the first book was written such that the reader is coming in to already-established relationships.) The crime at the heart of this one is particularly grisly, and worthy of a capital trial (for those that believe murdering a murderer is something anyone, let alone a government, should be allowed to do). The personal dramas among the lawyers are compelling. The courtroom drama as the lawyers fight with and against each other is at least as compelling as any other factor. And the outcomes are satisfying within the realms of the world and particular story – though that in no way gives you any hint as to what they actually are. ๐Ÿ˜€ Basically, if you like courtroom dramas, you’re likely going to like this one. If you like compelling mysteries, you’re likely to like this one. If you like just good stories period, you’re likely to like this one. So if you’re open to any of the above at all, you should read this book. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Very much recommended.